Spring Cleaning Tips That Help Save Time

An illustration of a vacuum cleaner. One of the most used items for spring cleaning.

How do you prepare for spring cleaning?

Spring cleaning is right around the corner. For some, that’s very exciting news. But for many people out there, it can be a daunting task. That is to be expected, though. When so much has to get done, it can get very overwhelming.

But similar to a hard workout, spring cleaning feels very rewarding after its completion. The rooms are squeaky clean, and the air smells fresher. In order to make it a little easier, we put together a list of tips. Hopefully, the task at hand is made simpler with them.

Spring Cleaning Tips

  • Organization is Key – Putting together a list will make the process feel more manageable. Highlight the biggest problem areas and put them at the top. Depending on how specific you want to get, you can even write down estimates for how long each job will take. Having a plan for each room will make the process a whole lot easier.
  • Declutter – Studies have shown that too much clutter causes stress. So, getting rid of any unnecessary items is basically meditation. Too much clutter will only make the cleaning process harder. If you have a bin of clothes that you don’t wear anymore, get rid of it. Everything will go a lot smoother without all that clutter around.
  • Obey the Top to Bottom Rule – For each room, you should start cleaning at the top and then work your way down. This means dusting cabinets should go before vacuuming the floor. Because if you vacuum first, the dust from the cabinets will go onto the carpet. Then you’ll have to vacuum all over again.
  • Make Your Cleaning Tools Portable – Instead of trying to clutch every cleaning supply you own with your bare hands, find a container that’s easy to hold. You can get a caddy just about anywhere. And if you want something more heavy-duty, then consider investing in a rolling cart.

Spring cleaning does not have to be difficult. Just take it one room at a time and you’ll be fine. Having the right mindset and strategy helps make the process a whole lot easier.

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Natural, More Affordable Ways to Shine Your Hardwood Floors

A picture of a living room with hardwood floors.

How do you shine up your hardwood floors?

Who doesn’t love newly shined hardwood floors? Well, aside from your dog when it’s trying to run somewhere. They’re sturdy. They’re easy to clean. And when cleaned properly, hardwood floors have a refined look to them that’s unmatched. They’re understated and can look great in a lot of different settings.

For many, however, getting that desired shine isn’t so easy. Depending on the room’s size, polishing hardwood floors can cost up to $900. And many people don’t like the chemicals used in a lot of the different floor cleaners available.

Obstacles like these are why people don’t shine their hardwood floors as often as they should. It doesn’t have to be such a challenge, though. Many homespun remedies are out there. And they have been known to work.

If you’re trying to find a cost-efficient, hassle free way to shine your floors, then look no further. Here are a few alternatives to help avoid the big price tag and chemicals from regular cleaners.

Alternatives for Shining Hardwood Floors

  • Lemon – This citrus is recommended in a lot of different ways. Lemon juice, lemon oil, lemon polish, lemon everything! Each one works well but in different ways. There’s a slipping hazard with lemon in general, so it’s important to mix properly. A thorough mopping is recommended before, too.
  • Vinegar – Mixing vinegar with water has been an effective floor cleaner for many people. Vinegar has natural antibacterial properties to it. This makes it harder for any harmful chemicals to accumulate on the floor’s surface.
  • Tea – All you have to do is boil a few bags of tea, let it cool, and then it’s ready to use. Because it’s high in acid, tea is able to get the dirt out of hard to reach areas. Also, it doesn’t have the potential to strip the floor’s finish if not diluted enough.

These everyday items have been known to work wonders on hardwood floors. Try them out if you are looking to clean your floors with less harmful chemicals in them.

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Your Oven Racks Also Need Cleaning

A close up of an oven with multiple oven racks and a roast turkey inside.

Are your oven racks clean or are they starting to collect dirt?

Last month, we walked you through how to clean the inside of your oven. And while we are sure it may have been a bit tedious, your oven should be sparkling on the inside. Now it’s time to move on to those oven racks. They might be a bit grimy and will need to be cleaned as well.

How to Clean Your Oven Racks

Just like the interior of your oven, cleaning the oven racks takes a little bit of time. Four hours to be exact. However, you can clean the oven racks at the same time you are preparing the oven to be wiped down. Doing this will make your life so much easier.

Here is what you are going to need:

Your first step is to line the bottom of your tub with old towels. This will prevent the oven racks from scraping or scratching the surface of your tub.

Next, you are going to place the racks in the tub, adding hot water and dishwasher detergent. Mix the detergent into the water and let the racks soak in the water for a couple of hours. Just like we have mentioned before, they should sit in the tub for about four hours – overnight if you want to clean both the oven racks and the tub at the same time.

Once the water and soap have had enough time to work its magic, you can start to scrub all of the grime off. Using a sponge, wipe down the racks. Make sure you get as much dirt and grime as possible. The one thing left to do is rinse them off and dry with a couple of leftover towels.

Did you find our walkthrough to be helpful? Then visit us next month, and we will show you how to clean your stove top.

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Cleaning Your Oven to Make It Look Brand New

A close-up of a woman cleaning the oven in the kitchen the way you should be cleaning your oven.

Cleaning your oven takes a few simple steps.

Do you know what is worse than deciding what you are going to eat tonight? Making sure not cooking your food in hot dirt. That means cleaning your oven. And while the thought might send shivers down your spine, we assure you that there is a way to keep your oven in cooking order.

How the Oven Gets Dirty

Unfortunately, the oven is not something that most people remember to clean. They cook and forget that it needs to be wiped down on occasion. However, you are not going to make the same mistake because we can show you to make it shiny again. All it takes it the right tools and some elbow grease.

If you haven’t cleaned your oven in a while, then you may notice some black build up. This is from all of the little crumbs and juices that fall onto the oven when you are cooking. While you might reach for the closest bottle of harsh chemicals, we don’t want you getting sick. Instead, using baking soda and vinegar will work just fine.

Cleaning Your Oven

First, remove the oven racks and anything else inside of your oven. This will give you more room to clean. Mix a ½ cup of baking soda together with a few teaspoons of water in a bowl. This should make a paste that you are going to rub all over on the inside of the oven using rubber gloves. Avoid spreading the paste on any heating elements, it might cause problems.

The next step takes some patience. You need to let the paste sit overnight. After it has had a good amount of time to set in, wipe it off with a damp dish cloth. If you need to, use a spatula to scrape the paste off.

The last step requires putting vinegar in a spray bottle, coating the inside of the oven, and giving your oven one final wipe down. When you spray the inside, you will see the vinegar cause any leftover baking soda to foam up. If the baking soda residue is all gone, then done with the inside of your oven.

Join us next month and we’ll help you with a way to clean those oven racks as well.

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Cleaning Painted Walls for a Brighter Home

A modern living room, with white walls. Cleaning painted walls like this can be tough.

Cleaning painted walls can be tricky, but we know how to help.

Between the kids making your walls their personal canvas and the mystery scuff marks making an appearance every week, your home can’t seem to catch a break. The good news is that we have a solution. It is time to learn the proper techniques for cleaning painted walls and how to make your home look brand new.

Step #1: Prep Your Home

Remove paintings, mirrors, and other decorations from your walls. You should not clean around them. This will only lead to damaged items that can potentially be damaged by water. Another thing to remember is to prep your floors. Putting down a drop cloth will prevent your floors from getting wet and you from slipping.

Step #2: Dust Your Walls

Believe it or not, walls get dusty too. You are going to want to dust them off before washing them.  Here’s how you can do it. First, wrap a towel around the head of your broom. With this, you can wipe the walls from the top down. If you have a vacuum with a brush attachment, we suggest you use this clean up those nasty baseboards.

Step #3: Cleaning Painted Walls With the Right Materials

When it comes down to washing those smudges and crayon marks, you are going to want to use either a lint-free washcloth or undyed sponge. With these materials, you can prevent marking your walls with any more stains.

Rinse your cloth or sponge with clean, warm water and remember to wring it out. You don’t want to get your walls too wet, just enough to erase those marks or stains. You are going to start wiping down the walls with your cloth or sponge. If this doesn’t seem to be doing the trick, then add some dish detergent or homemade solution clean your walls. A popular solution includes mixing together dish detergent, white vinegar, and baking soda.

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How to Clean and Leave Fewer Allergens

A woman scrubbing a tub in order to prevent allergens like mold from growing.

Cleaning regularly will make your life easier and leave fewer allergens in your home.

Allergies can make some of the nicest times of year the most miserable. Is there anything you can do around the home to help your family endure? Let’s look at the full range of allergens, from those caused by pesty insects to skin irritants in the laundry.

Remove Anything That Could Attract Cockroaches

Believe it or not, one of the most common environmental allergies is to a pheromone that cockroaches release to attract one another within their communities. If you see a cockroach, especially during the day, it is important to take action immediately. Cockroaches usually feed at night, so if one is wandering your house searching for food or water during the day, it usually means an overcrowded community that is short on food. Remove any potential food or water sources to starve out the community, but you may need an exterminator.

Keep Mold From Forming

Mold needs moisture to grow, so a dehumidifier is mold’s natural enemy. The shower and/or tub are the biggest culprits, so clean these often. A daily spray and wipe down can help. Keeping the home a constant temperature is also important. Also, let wet clothes or towels dry before tossing them in a laundry bin.

Reducing Dust Allergens in the Air

Make certain the return vent for your central air is kept clean. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter, and vacuum regularly. Air purifiers can also work, but be sure to get one powerful enough for the size of the room it is in. Use a microfiber cloth with a liquid cleaner (a homemade vinegar spray is perfect) when dusting so that you pick up dust rather than throwing it into the air. Don’t forget to vacuum tough-to-reach places (like under the bed) when you do your big spring and fall cleanings.

Laundering Clothes

Don’t use more than the recommended amount of detergent. If anyone gets a rash, try an allergen-free detergent with no dyes or perfumes. Switching from powdered to liquid detergent will reduce residue left on clothes.  Not overloading the machine allows the detergent to reach all of the garments.

By employing these few tips, you should have to deal with fewer environmental allergies.

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Put an End to Stinky Towel Syndrome

Clean new towels are hanging in a bathroom. A stinky towel can be caused by leaving it in the washing machine.

Don’t let a stinky towel ruin the smell in your home. Clean it up with a few tips.

Everyone has been guilty of causing “stinky towel syndrome” at one time or another. You wash your hand towels, bath towels, washcloths, kitchen towels, etc., and then you forget them in the machine. In the morning, you’re left with a smelly mess that the dryer just can’t fix. What causes your stinky towel to smell? How can you get rid of it?

What Causes Stinky Towel Syndrome

Leaving your towels in the washing machine overnight isn’t the only way to end up with a mildew smell. For example, you may have moved the towels to the dryer, but then didn’t dry them long enough. Or the dryer may be getting old and doesn’t have the drying power it used to.

Of course, the dryer isn’t always to blame. If the problem is the washing machine, you will have to clean it. To get a musty smell out of a washing machine, use hot water and two cups of bleach, and run it with no clothes inside. Then wipe everything down and leave the washer open to finish air drying.

Getting the Musty Smell Out of Towels

If the problem is because the towels didn’t dry properly, the fix may be as simple as washing them again in hot water. Try adding white vinegar to the load of laundry for extra odor-eliminating power. A cup should do for a full load. Once you wash towels in vinegar, you will probably want to wash them again with a regular detergent to remove the vinegar smell. This time, dry the towels right away and check when the dryer cycle ends to make sure the smell was removed. Using a dryer sheet can also help eliminate any stubborn leftover odor.

The hamper can be another trouble spot for building smells. Don’t throw a towel in the hamper if it is still wet because it will start to smell in the hamper. Hang towels to dry first, unless you intend to wash them immediately. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with that stinky towel.

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How to Keep Illness at Bay by Cleaning the Right Way

A woman is cleaning the sink in the bathroom, which is a good way to prevent illness.

Cleaning certain areas in your home is a great way to avoid untimely illness.

Especially if you have kids in the home, illness is inevitable. But how can you keep whatever one of the little ones brings home from school from spreading to the entire household? Here are a few specific areas to watch out for when cleaning to try and stop the spread of disease.

Keeping Illness at Bay

Bed Linens – While a child is sick, it is usually sufficient to just change out the pillow case. However, as soon as the child is well again, washing the bed linens is an important part of getting those germs out of the house — although during a prolonged illness, you should still change the linens at least once per week.

Bath Towels – Especially if you share hand towels, these should be changed out daily until everyone in the household is healthy again.

Handles and Doorknobs – Anything that everyone touches regularly should be cleaned daily. For example, doorknobs, light switches, the refrigerator handle, and other such things that are in common areas of the house can be wiped down with an antibacterial wipe.

Toothbrushes – Especially if the illness has spread around to everyone in the house, it is time to change out all of the toothbrushes when the sickness is over.

Electronics – Everyone touches electronics. For example, the remote for the TV should be wiped down with cotton and rubbing alcohol.

Bathrooms – If you don’t have time to clean the bathroom every day while there is an illness in the house, at least wipe down the door, toilet, sink, and tub handles and knobs. If you have more than one bathroom, you may want the sick person to use the same bathroom, and transfer anyone who shares it to another bathroom until the illness is over.

Of course, hand washing is most important when an illness is involved. Be sure you have a good antibacterial soap at each sink, and train children to wash their hands for at least 30 seconds. That goes for parents, too. You need to set the example, and you don’t want to be the one who comes down with the illness next.

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Get That Old Hairbrush Clean

Often people don’t know how to get a hairbrush clean, and many don’t even think of this as a regular part of keeping up a home. However, you don’t want all of that old hair and product clinging to your brush, collecting dirt and bacteria. Here’s a quick way to get your old hairbrush clean and looking brand new.

Step 1: Remove Clumps of Hair

Whether you use a comb or any other household item to get down between the bristles, you need to remove old hair clumps first. Basically, you are loosening the hair enough to grab it by hand and toss it out. If the hair is really caught in there, you may want to use an old pair of scissors to lift the hair out and let you cut a little at the same time. Be careful not to cut off your bristles.

Step 2: Sanitizing Your Hairbrush

In a bowl, combine warm water with a little baking soda and shampoo. The shampoo is better than using a cleaning agent that could harm your hair next time you use the brush, and the baking soda will remove smells or oils.

If you have an old toothbrush handy, it’s the perfect tool for scrubbing the cleaning solution on your hairbrush. Be sure to rinse the cleaning liquid off afterwards. To clean several brushes at once or to let a larger brush soak (don’t do this with a wooden brush), fill the sink with your warm water and cleaning solution. Then you can let everything soak in the sink and rinse it off afterwards.

Step 3: Ongoing Maintenance to Keep Your Hairbrush Clean

It’s a lot easier to keep a hairbrush clean than to clean it for the first time in years. Simply pulling excess hair out of it every few uses will lead to less build up. Then the process becomes quicker, and you can soak your brush on a day when you are doing a more thorough cleaning—every three months or so.

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Tips for Getting Rid of Clutter in Your Home

Do you feel like the walls are closing in if clutter begins to pile up at home? Sometimes it happens so gradually that it doesn’t seem like a big deal until that one day when claustrophobia strikes—and you have to go outside just to breathe. How can you get your home back under control without taking a day off to clean or throw excess items away?

Here are some tips for quick clutter removal:

Start in the Kitchen

This is the first place you are going to notice clutter because it is frustrating when you run out of places for a cutting board or to make a sandwich. Plus, it makes the kitchen tough to keep clean. If you only have time to declutter one zone, make it the kitchen counters.

While you’re in the kitchen, check the inside of the fridge for clutter. Clutter there can result in food getting wasted because it spoils before you can find it. Plus, that means more clean up once food starts to rot. Be sure the outside doesn’t get too cluttered with pictures and magnets. Throw invitations away once the event has passed, and move kids’ drawing to a memory box instead of keeping dozens up at a time. It will also make the refrigerator’s surface easier to keep clean.

Don’t forget the sink. This is a great time to catch up on dishes. Having a pile of dirty dishes in the sink, plus a full load of clean dishes in the dishwasher or on a drying rack, makes the whole room look messy. Dealing with the dishes is a fast way to remove clutter.

The Dreaded Nightstand

Let’s face it; this is your little spot in the house where no one can judge you. You throw down your keys, jewelry, mail, and anything else that happens to be in your hands when you walk into the bedroom. First of all, if you have a drawer, use it. Just be sure it is organized, so you don’t have to fish around in it for 10 minutes to find your keys when it is time to leave. You can also keep the top of your nightstand neatly arranged with a few little decorative baskets.

The Clutter on Your Work Desk

Do you work from home or even just have a little desk where you sit down to pay the bills? This area is usually the other big trouble spot. Be sure to throw out unneeded papers, file important ones, and have a desk organizer for pens, pads, and the like.

It doesn’t take long to get the house back to where you can see the surfaces, and you can breathe a little easier.

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